As a truck driver, you’ll have to be prepared for when things potentially go wrong. Perhaps the most apparent case of truck driving gone awry is when you experience a truck breakdown. If you find yourself in an emergency situation such as this, there’s a few things you’ll want to try…
Truck Breakdown: What You Should Do?
Take preventive measures
One of the best ways to handle a truck breakdown is to try and prevent them in the first place. Many causes of breakdowns are thing which most drivers could have avoided if they had taken some preventative measures. Therefore, make use of things like weight stations, and pre-/post-trip inspections to check if your truck’s still in good shape.
Still, sometimes things just go wrong. In these cases, you want to make sure you’re properly prepared ahead of time. Try to prepare yourself a well-equipped emergency kit with supplies both for short-term, as well as long-term waiting periods.
Pull off the road
When you start to experience a truck breakdown, your first priority should be to pull off the road. You’ll want to put your hazard lights on so other drivers around you know that something is wrong. Then, put your turn signal on, and get yourself off of the road and well away from any traffic.
Be sure that you’re not pulling off on a hill or slope which could cause your truck to roll or slide over. Once you’ve stopped, keep the hazards on, and secure your tires with some wheel chocks. Also, it helps to try and place some traffic cones or emergency triangles around the truck to let others know to watch their distance.
Assess the situation
After you’ve got your truck off the road, the next part of handling a truck breakdown is to asses the situation at hand. Be careful about poking around in the engine, especially if there’s smoke. Instead, alert your dispatcher about what’s happened, so they can call in a tow truck and let the client know.
It’s also good to do a quick check of your trailer and cargo too. Plus, if you’re carrying temperature-controlled or potentially dangerous materials, you want to ensure that they’re still in good shape. Give your trailer a quick look-over, and check for any dents or damage on the cargo itself.
Most people know about the dangers of texting and driving distracted. However, truckers also have to be aware of some unique trucking distractions they can face. Knowing how to identify and handle these distractions can help you stay safe on the road…
Trucking Distractions: What To Watch For
The first set of trucking distractions to watch for are external. External distractions are things around you which catch your attention. These distractions can take your eyes off the road for too long and can cause accidents to occur.
For example, “rubbernecking” is a form of an external distraction which can lead to further accidents. Furthermore, billboards, phones, music, and even the natural scenery can be external distractions. You might not think you’re being distracted, but you’re putting yourself at danger by not completely focusing on the road.
The second set of trucking distractions are internal ones. Internal distractions are thoughts which take your focus on the road. These thoughts can be harder to identify, but it’s important to recognize them before they become too distracting.
Internal distractions tend to happen after something else. Say you have a fight with your spouse before you drive. Odds are, your mind is going to be thinking about that fight, taking your focus off of driving. Overthinking can lead to a decrease in reaction times, and lead to accidents which could have been prevented.
While these trucking distractions can seem overwhelming, you can take steps to help keep yourself focused. For external distractions, it’s all about limiting your exposure to them. Keep your phone up, pick your music before you leave, and keep your eyes on the road ahead.
Internal distractions can be a bit more tricky to handle. It helps to take some time to clear your head and relax as best you can before driving. If you notice you’re getting distracted by your thoughts, try to take a break for a moment to regain your focus.
Trucking distractions are just another risk that truck drivers have to be aware about. However, once you’re aware of these distractions, then you can start to work to limit them. Limiting these distractions will help make your driving experience all the more safer.
Weigh stations are something which most truck drivers will experience at some point. However, for new drivers, they can be a little overwhelming at first. Still, these stations play an important role in making sure that both you and other drivers are safe on the road…
Weigh Stations: A Quick Guide
Who has to stop
A weigh station, as the name implies, is a place for the Department of Transportation to weigh commercial vehicles. After all, overweight and oversized vehicles can pose serious risks to both their drivers and others on the road. In the U.S., for instance, the most any truck and a full trailer can weigh is 80,000 pounds.
At these stations, any commercial vehicle which weighs at least 10,000 pounds must stop. However, there are a few exceptions. For example, if a driver has something like a PrePass or a bypass service, then they may not need to stop. A good way to check for stations on your route is by using a map service like Google Maps.
The weighing process
The weighing process starts even before you make it to a weigh station. First, you have to look for signs which indicate open stations. Once you see an open one, then you must stop at the station. After that, your truck will be weighed by the DOT, usually by rolling scales which you just drive your truck over.
If a truck is under 80,000 pounds, then the officials will clear it to continue driving. If it’s overweight, then it’s flagged and often times inspected. However, the DOT can also perform truck inspections for other reasons too. They might do this to check for fluid leaks, cracks in the rims, flat tires, and much more.
Weigh stations also involve log book inspections. DOT officials will enter in your DOT number to a database to check your log books. The officials do this for two reasons. Firstly, it’s to make sure you are doing your part and are keeping record of your driving hours.
Secondly, and most importantly, they also want to make sure you aren’t violating hours-of-service laws. Truckers have strict rules on how long they can drive per day and per week. These rules help ensure drivers get proper rest in-between their hauls.
Truck drivers will have to make a wide variety of different kinds of deliveries. Perhaps some of the trickiest trips to make will be those with oversized loads. These larger loads present some new challenges and risks to keep in mind. Doing so will help you and your haul can get to the destination safely…
Oversized Loads: What You Need to Know
Check the laws
Due to how oversized loads can be pretty dangerous, there’s a different set of laws and requirements in place for them. For example, in the U.S., any vehicle carrying a load wider than 8’5″ is oversized. However, there’s also height and weight limitations as well that can vary state-by-state.
Plus, you’ll also have to make sure you have the right kinds of permits. Each state tends to have their own unique permit, which you’ll need if you want to carry your haul on their roads. Plus, some might also require you to have special escort or pilot vehicles in order to drive.
Plan a good route
Route planning is also a key aspect of driving with oversized loads. For starters, the route you plan to take can impact whether or not you get a permit. States will review your planned route and let you know if it’s okay or not. Plus, you have to consider that roads you used to travel might not work with a larger load.
However, you do have some tools you can use to find a good route. Modern technologies like GPS can help you find a route specifically for oversized hauls. Plus, you can search for commonly used oversized routes so you won’t have to worry about looking for gas, rest stops, etc. while driving.
Driving with a normal load can already be pretty tricky. Therefore, you can expect oversized loads to be even more of a challenge. That’s why you need to make sure you drive cautiously in order to protect both yourself and other drivers.
It helps to adopt a more defensive driving style when dealing with oversized loads. Keep your speed in check and ensure you have plenty of distance away from other cars. Also, make sure that any safety banners or lights are clearly visible, so other drivers know what to expect when driving near you.
Being a truck driver involves long periods of sitting and driving. However, this can have a pretty unhealthy effect on the body. Therefore, it might be a good idea to practice some trucker exercise. Along with staying in shape, exercise comes with some other benefits as well. As it turns out, there’s a wide variety of exercises you can try out…
Trucker Exercise: Keeping Right on the Road
Walking might be the easiest form of trucker exercise there is. For starters, it’s a pretty simple form of exercise that gets you moving around. Plus, it can be done practically anywhere, as you don’t need any special equipment. You can do it when you stop for food, gas, rest, or just to take a quick break.
The tricky thing about walking can be figuring out how much you’ve walked. Luckily, many phones come with health apps which can track your steps. Your truck can also serve as a handy reference point. 32 laps around a tractor trailer is equal to about 1 mile. Using that, you can judge just how much you walk at a given time.
Stretches are also another easy form of trucker exercise. Sitting for long periods of time can really take a toll on your back, hips, and legs. Therefore, you want to make sure you give them a chance to decompress and relax. Plus, much like walking, you can do these stretches as nearly any place and any time.
Back-bends are useful for relieving back pain, as you just have to place your hands on your hips behind your back, and lean back for 5-10 seconds. Doing them in reverse is also a good way to not just stretch your back, but also your legs and hamstrings. With how many different stretches there are, it’s easy to find the ones you like and incorporate them into your routine.
Body weight exercises
You can also consider doing some body weight exercises for your trucker exercise. These are techniques which use your own body’s weight in its favor. Think things like push-ups, sit-ups, squats, etc.
The thing to keep in mind with these exercises is they might need a bit of extra space to do them effectively. Plus, you might want to bring something like an exercise mat so you don’t have to do them on the ground. Still, they’re a great way to get yourself active and stay in shape!
Being a truck driver can be a dangerous job, but that’s not just because of the risk of accidents. Many truckers are aware of the trucking injuries that can occur while driving. However, they may not know about the ones that can happen even before they hit the road. There injuries, often times, can be avoid if one is careful…
Trucking Injuries: Ways To Avoid Them
Slips and falls
Truckers will have to constantly get in and out of their cabs, as well as walk around shipping areas. While this seems pretty “simple”, slips and falls can easily happen during these times. This is especially true if the cab steps or area around them is slippery. As a result, these trucking injuries aren’t ones you want to overlook.
It’s a good idea to invest in a good pair of steel-toe, slip-resistant boots. Boots tend to already have better grip than other shoes. The slip-resistance will further help you keep your footing. Plus, the steel-toe will help protect your feet from falling objects, especially if something you’re transporting falls when moving.
Truckers tend to develop a habit of jumping out of their cabs or the back of their trailers. On the surface, this seems like a harmless, faster way to get down on the ground. However, actions like this can actually be a major cause of trucking injuries. Each jump ends up putting more and more pressure andstrainon your joints.
Most notably, your ankles, knees, and back take most of the brunt of the impact. Over time, this strain can build up and lead to constant pain and potential injury. Plus, there’s always the risk of landing the wrong way and getting hurt. That’s why it’s just safer to use the stairs you have.
Keep your hands free
Many people like to try and do things while holding other things in their hands. Truckers are no different. Often times, truckers might try to climb out of their cabs with something like their phones. However, this just causes an increased risk of trucking injuries.
Having something in your hands means you can’t properly grip the safety handles or side-rails. As a result, if you slip, then you won’t be able to catch yourself. A simple solution is to just wear something with plenty of pockets to put your things in, like a vest.